Sales Solutions to Avoid Business Bugbears

Picture of David Irving
Senior Solution Consultant
Business bugbears, eh? Where do we start and where do we finish? The sales solutions game often feels like the fairground whack-a-mole game. Hammer down staff turnover and up pops poor business strategy. And just when you were about to claim the grand prize of a furry unicorn, along comes Covid-19 to throw all your plans into disarray.
 
Rather than you getting sore arms with all that mole-thumping, Varicent’s got temporary custody of a magic business wand to make things a bit better. So, if you had an exclusive appointment with our business solutions superhero what amazing piece of knowledge or information would you want them to impart? And what powerful software could be the potion to fix the problems? Let’s make that scenario a tiny bit tougher. That window of opportunity with Captain Resolver is no more than seven minutes long (which is about how long we estimate it will take for you to read this post) so let’s get going, as the clocks ticking.
 
1. Is There a Leak? – Seeing Finance Issues on the Horizon
 
We’ll tackle the topic of finance first, as without money, investment, and profit, they’d be no business to be worried about. Within the context of a business bugbear and in relation to sales solutions, that does need to be narrowed down to a more specific area. It has been said before that ‘a leaking boat is a sinking boat’ which means that if you spot a hole in the bodywork, what’s causing it, and just how long before your sales team grab the nearest lifejacket and head for another more steady ship?
 
In this current environment, all businesses have the potential to hit the bottom of the ocean, without due diligence and well-thought-out KPIs in place. The technology that best supports this strategic approach is robust sales performance management software. This gives you a 360˚ view of how your team is being deployed, if the sales compensation package can be justified, and whether a territorial investment is paying off. Rather than going cross-eyed with confusion as you pore over spreadsheets, a clear-as-day dashboard can be adjusted to reflect sales in a day, week, month, quarter, or year.
 
When the directors are looking to make cuts in the face of a poor financial result, data equals power. This empirical evidence backs up or contradicts current sales solutions and can save you and your team from some of the cuts that come with uncertainty. It’s all too easy to blame poor numbers on falling sales, so turn that around. Ensure that your presentation clearly reflects that sales staff are working well, meeting their targets and bringing onboard new customers with interest in your products, and that means the money ‘leak’ must be coming from another source.
 
2. Who Saw the Iceberg Coming? – Intelligent Forecasting
 
One way to stop your business ship from smashing into the rocks is with accurate forecasting. Nobody enjoys working for a business – whether that’s the family grocers on the corner of the block or a multi-billion-dollar concern in Silicon Valley – when there is no pattern of planning. Much like the notoriously unaware crew of the Titanic, the line ‘If only we saw that coming’ has been the final words of many business minds just before they entered insolvency. Sadly, even the most brilliant minds and talented clairvoyants could have predicted the fallout of a global pandemic, but there are tools and platforms that make the chance of crashing into that metaphoric iceberg much less likely.
 
A further benefit of sales solutions SPM is its ability to recognize sales trends and fluctuations so any sudden changes can be addressed very quickly and built into the wider sales solutions plan. Using a single, powerful, cloud-based platform removes the guesswork and uncertainty and keeps sales reps connected during times of change, even if they’re based deep in the territorial fields. The other advantage is that by harnessing the right software, as a business you can scale up in a more timely and appropriate manner, which means that you’re in a more secure position if there is a period of sudden change.
 
A further recommendation to weatherproof you against the harsher business elements is investing in territory quota and planning software. An essential part of forecasting. The analytics you get from this allows you to be strategic in placing your sales force. The software can tell you how well products are likely to do in an area based on many criteria, and you can quickly pull back and out if there is an issue with over-resourcing or a break in the supply chain.
 
When there is a lack of forecasting followed by a negative business result, that can often result in a chaotic, internal scramble to pull in funds and resources from a number of sources. This knee-jerk reaction may mean cuts to the budget in every area of the company, as well as possible layoffs. And for the survivors of the mid-ocean collision, they’ll be cold, miserable, and looking for safe harbor as soon as they can.
 
A business issue that tends to go hand-in-hand with a lack of forecasting is a shoddy exit strategy from a particular market. Whether that’s continuing to hammer home aggressive sales in an over-saturated market, keeping a large team in a territory that’s past it’s purchasing best, or not being aware of local competition, not knowing when to withdraw is a recognized crime against sound business insight. This dilemma no longer needs to be solved by licking a finger and holding it in the air for a better sense of which way the wind is blowing. The same sales solutions software that informs you of where to go in stronger can report back and provide analysis on falling sales or incoming competition.
 
3. Does Anyone Know Morse Code? – Lack of Technology
 
While one business bugbear might be poor financial decision-making or questionable investment, most would agree that supporting technological growth is something that should be encouraged. In the case of our sinking ship, if enough of the crew had known how to steer the ship or understood the consequences to the entire bodywork that hitting it would cause, then maybe the outcome wouldn’t have resulted in Kate Winslett nudging Leonardo Di Caprio off that plank of wood in the icy Atlantic. And don’t even get us started on the lack of lifeboats.
 
Turning our attention to how this relates to business frustration, it’s simply about having the tools to do your job well. In the past, a dedicated sales rep may not have been using his arms as paddles but keeping track of purchases in an order book, ensuring these were logged, and keeping in touch with HQ was all rather arduous. Records could go missing, calls not responded to and human nature being what it is, more insidious behaviors, such as favoritism and even bribery were easier to get away with. It all sounds a bit like a bad season of ‘Survivor’ doesn’t it, rather than a controlled, regulated, and forward-thinking business. Even recent technological innovations that were once heralded as game-changers, such as spreadsheet packages, have been overtaken by less error-prone, less labor-intensive methods and innovations. That’s why technology that supports sales processes and staff should be enthusiastically embraced without fear.
 
The beauty of SPM is that every individual, every team, and every product is on record and accountable. Sales reps can log confirmed sales, lead captures, and queries in real-time and there’s little chance of anyone going AWOL, either. Quota sales planning software is in place to regulate the number of customers per person or team, while the commission is earned and banked fair and square with super-efficient, reliable, and honest tools in place.
 
4. Anyone Seen the Crew? – Personnel Turnover
 
When any of the above business situations starts to become a real problem, employees will very quickly start to exit in any way that they can. Back on board that sinking ship, while the official policy might be that the loyal crew is the last to leave, the truth is they may well have anticipated danger a while ago and made arrangements for their safe and swift departure.
 
Smart personnel, especially those that are already using forecasting software, can often sniff out trouble or possible dissent. Cutbacks on the cool stuff, like subsidized lunches, or team away days and social functions, maybe enough of a hint that things aren’t going so well.
 
That scenario is pretty demotivating for even the most loyal of employees, but for someone that has had a strong record in hitting sales targets, this can be the final straw. Add to that an unstable or poorly conceived compensation structure and the virus of ‘giving notice’ is likely to prove highly contagious.
 
This epidemic of walkouts is less likely to occur when everyone is working in an environment of transparency and encouragement. A stable and robust commission tool gives all possible qualifiers real-time visibility of where they are and what their team stands to achieve. There is a much slimmer chance of changing the rules half-way through the financial year and if there are circumstances that are having a negative impact on the business, it’s much easier to realign with KPIs and objectives when real-time information is right there before your eyes.
 
The walk-out culture has several longer-term consequences as well. With a number of company review websites being widely used, it only takes one or two disgruntled ex-employees to post their experiences and it may deter a potential new hire from joining the company. In the case of the Titanic, its disastrous maiden voyage was hardly a ringing endorsement for future able seamen to sign up for the White Star Line.
 
5. Who Wants to Buy a Ship-building Company? – Customers, Aftercare, Reputation
 
Even without the internet, rolling news, and on-the-scene smartphone coverage of the Titanic’s last moments, it’s unsurprising that the company that built that ship didn’t go on to enjoy the most trouble-free future. More than a hundred years after that catastrophe, with a world full of keyboard warriors, the best software packages available may not necessarily protect your business from bad product or service reviews. Experienced sales teams fully understand that the service and support they provide to customers post-purchase is as important as that during the first stages of a sales negotiation. With that in mind, we can’t dismiss these concerns as unimportant when looking at business bugbears. Rather than making a note in your physical diary, you can really remain in control of great aftercare with SPM as part of your sales solutions weaponry. Full contacts, and a record of when and what they purchased means you’ll never swamp a customer with too many calls or emails but can be ready to give advice and relevant information on upgrades or product support at the right time.
 
Looking at business and customers right now, in the closing months of 2020, it’s never been more essential for organizations to be mindful of their customers’ needs and for customers to keep buying. The schemes and promotions your business offer is the link that may help you survive and thrive during this period of uncertainty.
 
You may be required, temporarily at least, to shift your business model. There are plenty of stories about clothing companies manufacturing PPE, facemasks, and scrubs, and pharmaceutical firms extending their range of hand sanitizers in order to be relevant and meet market demand. On the other hand, large-scale event organizers or concert promoters have had to think about alternative sources of income or business methods.
 
Data analysis of purchase patterns as well as looking at strong sales performers means that you can shift your strategy and people without too much damage. It’s that tendency to ignore issues or resist change that leads to sinking ships (or businesses).
 
In Summary
 
In work, as in life, there will of course be frustrations and obstacles that are difficult to overcome. The good news is that many of these seemingly unfixable business problems can be removed by using best-in-class software. We’ve looked at just some of the common problems through the lens of that doomed ship, which is probably the most dramatic and hopefully unlikely illustration of bad outcomes. By identifying these shared pain points and offering sound sales solutions, we hope you’ll enjoy plain sailing on calm and profitable waters.
 
For more insight on how Varicent sales software can solve your business bugbears, speak to your local rep today or visit www.varicent.com

Tags: Incentive Compensation

Picture of David Irving
Senior Solution Consultant

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